WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #31 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Francis Manapul, Alejandro Sanchez and Tom Napolitano, on sale now.
Scott Snyder's current Justice League arc has raised the stakes for DC's premier group of heroes in the biggest way possible, since they're trying to save the multiverse from being reshaped by Perpetua and Lex Luthor, the Apex Predator. To save all of existence, the League has recruited the Monitor and the World Forger, and need Perpetua's other son, the Anti-Monitor, to complete the trifecta that could imprison her once more and preserve existence as with the early days of the Source Wall.
However, the Anti-Monitor is hidden away at the Edge of the Universe when the League and the Legion of Doom come hunting him. When we finally see this cosmic being, we see that he's made a shocking alliance with a major DC hero who's made his comeback after some time on the sidelines, Aquaman.
The League sent a squad led by Batman and Superman to the future to recover a shard of the Totality, and Flash and Green Lantern went to the past to recover one as well. However, both teams are experiencing trouble with the former facing Brainiac's legion, only to meet the Justice Legion A, the heroes of the DC One Million crossover. The latter team has met up with the Justice Society, but they've run into a roadblock at Pearl Harbor which is now on the cusp of war. The team also has a contingency plan to find the Anti-Monitor before Lex and Perpetua do, which is made a bit easier by the telepathic Shayne (the son of Hawkgirl/Kendra Saunders and the Martian Manhunter from the Sixth Dimension).
With the Forger, Kendra, Monitor and Shayne in a specially-constructed vessel to explore the bleed in hypertime Starman has facilitated, they have to race Lex as he and his dark goddess to find the Anti-Monitor themselves before he can be converted or killed. Shayne picks up on this and urges his crew to move faster, but as the issue ends we see the Anti-Monitor welcoming back a cloaked figure who apparently went through time to see all the heroic factions on their missions.
The hooded soldier is scared by the scale of the war and even refers to the Anti-Monitor (who's driven by anti-matter and also has a past tied to the Anti-Life Equation) as "lord," indicating he's been blindly loyal for some time -- a disconcerting notion given we know the Anti-Monitor has caused a couple major crises. When the figure removes the hood, Aquaman reveals himself to be ready to do the Anti-Monitor's bidding and fight to the very end. Arthur tells the behemoth he can count on him, made all the more worse by the Anti-Monitor revealing that neither the League nor Luthor will find a solution coming to hunt him down.
What's even more intriguing is Arthur time-hopping like this, wearing a cloak and such, is eerily reminiscent of the X-Men's Cable, who rocked the same style, hopping around temporally so he could protect Hope Summers and the future itself. Aquaman has finally returned afterthe finale of Drowned Earth where he was lost to sea gods on an island, only to emerge a new man in his solo series. And even there, we saw Wonder Woman begging him to come back to the League, as well as the failed relationship between him and Mera, who's actually avoiding him since she's currently pregnant with their kid.
We don't know what happened in the time that passed when he was away from the League, but Aquaman has clearly been doing his master's work in secret. Only time will tell what these jobs were, but as it stands, Arthur is following all the Anti-Monitor's orders -- even affecting his friends' time-jumps, which could set up a deadly encounter between Aquaman and the Justice League very soon.
Justice League #32 goes on sale Sep. 18.